Scientists reported preliminary evidence recently that cocoa and other chocolates may keep high blood pressure down, your blood flowing and your heart healthy.
The research, the latest which correlates eating flavonoid-rich foods with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease(1), was presented in February at the American Association for the Advancement of Science's (AAAS) annual meeting in Boston.
One study found that a substance in cocoa helps the body process nitric oxide (NO), a compound critical for healthy blood flow and blood pressure. Another study showed that flavonols in cocoa prevent fat-like substances in the bloodstream from oxidizing and clogging the arteries, and make blood platelets less likely to stick together and cause clots. Flavonoids are plant compounds with potent antioxidant properties; so far, scientists have found more than 4,000 kinds. Cocoa beans contain large quantities of flavonoids, and so do red wine, tea, cranberries, peanuts, strawberries, apples and many other fruits and vegetables.(2) The flavonoids in chocolate are called flavonols.
Generally, science has found that dark chocolate is higher in flavonoids than milk chocolate.(3) The way that cocoa powder and chocolate syrups are manufactured removes most flavonoids.